NASA’s first robotic attempt to gather samples of an asteroid completed its critical design review (CDR) last week, clearing the $1.07 billion Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security Regolith Explorer (Osiris-Rex) mission team to begin assembly of the spacecraft for an October 2016 launch. Osiris-Rex would reach the nearly 500-meter-wide (1.640-ft.-wide) asteroid Bennu in 2018, to begin a year or more of close-up reconnaissance, studying its topography, ...

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